Home to the world-famous Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park protects 169 square kilometres of rugged Freycinet Peninsula coastline dominated by pink granite mountains and idyllic bays with white sandy beaches. One of the best ways to explore the park is to take a few walks through its stunning landscape.
There are some spectacular walks in Freycinet National Park, from easy 10-minute strolls to steep mountain climbs, and multi-day hiking adventures. But if you only have one day in Freycinet and looking to explore as many different landscapes in the park as you can, then taking a few shorter walks is the way to go.
Freycinet National Park is home to 4 of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks and you can easily do 3 of them on a day trip. The fourth, Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach, is an 11-km circuit and takes about half a day to complete. But you can easily do a shorter version of this track, the Wineglass Bay Lookout walk, one of the most famous walks in Tasmania.
Here is a guide to 3 Great Short Walks you can do in one day at Freycinet National Park. It also includes some of the particularly stunning spots to explore along the way, and tips on finding wildlife in Freycinet.
Getting to Freycinet National Park from Hobart
Freycinet National Park is just over 168 kilometres (2.5 hrs) northeast of Hobart (via A3) which makes it a nice long day trip. If you are looking for a stopover (and a bit of a detour) on the way, you can visit the charming historic town of Richmond and check out the famous Richmond Bridge. Built in 1825, Richmond Bridge is the oldest bridge in Australia that is still in use.
The gateway to Freycinet National Park is the layback seaside village of Coles Bay. But if you are planning to do all 3 Great Short Walks in Freycinet, then your adventure starts at Friendly Beaches, before you reach Coles Bay driving from Hobart.
1. Friendly Beaches Great Short Walk
5 minutes to 5 hours, 100m to 5km, Grade 2
To get to Friendly Beaches, turn right from A3 to Coles Bay Road, follow it for 8.5km, turn left onto Friendly Beaches Road and drive for another 4km to the beach.
If you are visiting in the morning, especially in winter, before you head to the beach, take a walk around the campsite – you are likely to spot some Bennett’s Wallabies busking in the sun to warm up after a cold night.
Once you are ready for a walk, head for the beach. A 10-meter boardwalk from the carpark takes you to a viewpoint and another 10 meters of stairs take you down to the sand. And once you hit that incredibly soft white sand you’ll want to continue exploring.
You can head south towards Friendly Point and Freshwater Lagoon. There is nothing between you and the lagoon but 7.8 km of sandy beach with some rocky outcrops and tidal pools to explore along the way.
These beaches are home to nesting shorebirds like hooded plovers, red-capped plovers, pied oystercatchers, fairy terns, and little terns. If you visit in the summer months between October and March, make sure to walk close to the waterline to avoid disturbing the birds.
This walk doesn’t have a designated finish. You can walk all the way to Freshwater Lagoon or turn around at any point you like. I would suggest spending around an hour on the beach – there is plenty more walking to do in Freycinet in a day.
When you are done at the beach, head back to Coles Bay Road and follow it to town. Just before you reach Coles Bay, you’ll get your first glimpse of Freycinet’s famous pink granite mountains reflected in the still water of the bay.
If you notice some pink discolouration in the water that at first glance looks like pollution, don’t worry, it is anything but. This is what bioluminescent plankton looks like in daylight hours. It is a rare enough occurrence and if you spot the plankton during the day, you’ll know where to come looking for it at night (if you happen to be staying overnight in the area).
One interesting thing about Cole Bay is that in 2013 it became the first town in Australia to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.
2. Wineglass Bay Lookout Great Short Walk
1-1.5 hours return, 2.6 km return, Grade 3
Chances are, you came to Freycinet to see one of Tasmania’s most celebrated views— the curvaceous white beach and crystal-clear waters of Wineglass Bay and the isthmus that separates Wineglass Bay from Hazards Bay. While the isthmus is only partially visible from Wineglass Bay lookout (you’ll need to hike to the top of Mt Amos to get a full view), the view of the bay itself and the rugged granite peaks is absolutely spectacular.
To see this postcard view requires some work – you need to climb 214 meters to the lookout perched in the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. The trail is quite steep in places but it is not difficult to walk. And since it is one of the most popular walks in Freycinet National Park, it means that it is suitable for all ages. The trail is well constructed with sections of stone steps in the steeper terrain. It takes most people 30-45 minutes to reach the top.
To reach the start of the trail from Coles Bay, head to Wineglass Bay car park (4.4 km along Freycinet Drive). From the car park, the Wineglass Bay Walk shares its starting point with the longer Hazards Beach and Mt Amos walks. So make sure to follow the signs to Wineglass Bay lookout.
But before you leave the car park area, have a look around the bushes – you are likely to spot some sunbathing Bennett’s wallabies here.
You may also notice a large pile of sticks with a sign next to it. Spend a minute reading the sign. This pile of sticks represents a nest of a White-bellied sea eagle. It takes over 30 years for a pair of eagles to build a nest of this size. It took three months for the visitors to Wineglass Bay lookout to collect and discard the sticks that make up this pile. So something as innocent as picking up a walking stick along the trail may actually make it harder for the eagles to find building materials for their nests.
As you start climbing the trail towards Wineglass Bay lookout, you first arrive at Coles Bay lookout about 20 minutes into the walk. This is a good opportunity to catch your breath and enjoy some of the views of the Tasmanian east coast.
From Coles Bay lookout, continue your ascent, passing underneath the rugged granite peaks, past an interesting rock that looks remarkably like a cartoon whale.
Once you reach the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson, you are only a few minutes away from your destination. If you feel like you need a break, there is a lovely wooden bench here. Otherwise, continue for just a few more hundred meters and you will reach the sprawling Wineglass Bay lookout backed by a huge granite outcrop with the amazingly clear waters of the bay glistening in the sun below you.
While the view of Wineglass Bay is downright idyllic, the history of its name has a sinister side to it. In the days when the whaling industry was booming in Tasmania, the whalers would come to this bay to slice whale carcasses open to extract the valuable oil. The whales’ blood would fill the bay giving it the appearance of a glass of red wine.
Thankfully, these days are well behind us and today you can spot passing humpbacks during their epic migration between Antarctica and the warm tropical waters off the Queensland coast.
Honeymoon Bay Detour
As stunning as Wineglass Bay is it is not the only beautiful bay in Freycinet. Just two kilometres away from Wineglass Bay car park, Honeymoon Bay is an absolute gem. Tiny in comparison to most other bays in the park, Honeymoon Bay is surrounded by jagged mountains, their pink granite bulk casting a warm hew over the landscape.
And it’s a two-minute stroll from the car park, which is a welcome perk after having climbed to Wineglass Bay lookout.
If you bring a packed lunch, this would be a stunning picnic spot. And it would be an absolutely magnificent spot for seeing bioluminescent plankton at night. We could see it in daylight and desperately wished we were staying overnight.
3. Cape Tourville Great Short Walk
20 min circuit, 600 meters, Grade 1
Cape Tourville walk is one of the easiest walks in Freycinet National Park. It is basically a walk in the park only with spectacular views of the granite coastline of Freycinet.
But while this walk might be short, it packs enough stunning coastal scenery to be a must-do in Freycinet. Most of the walk is on a raised boardwalk which makes it even easier to walk and plentiful signage along the way means that you’ll always know what you are looking at.
As you follow the boardwalk along the rocky coastline (counterclockwise), first you come to a fabulous view of the weathered granite cliffs of Carp Bay jutting out in front of Wineglass Bay with Mt Freycinet and Mt Graham rising on the other side.
In the second half of the walk you will come across the Nuggets, a group of four granite islets that are home to thousands of migratory birds.
As you stare out to the horizon here, what you can’t see below the surface is the continental shelf dropping about 5 km to the abyssal plain. That plain is interrupted by three enormous underwater volcanic seamounts that are higher than any mountains on land in Australia.
These waters are home to Common and Bottlenosed dolphins, Australian and New Zealand fur seals, humpback whales during their migration, albatrosses as well as huge numbers of other sea birds like Australian garnets.
Near the end, the trail loops around the unmanned and automatic Cape Tourville lighthouse that was built in 1971 and returns to the car park.
And there you have it, three different gorgeous walks in Freycinet National Park that allow you to explore different sides of this stunning stretch of coastline. You can easily do all three walks on a day trip from Hobart and have plenty of time to sample some local fish and chips or oysters at Coles Bay.